The Harley Davidson motorcycle didn’t start out as a low-slung, big-wheel wonder machine. The company’s product today hardly resembles the first motorcycle produced by the legendary icon.

William S Harley wanted to motorize a humble bicycle, an idea that has occurred to people many times. In fact, a twenty-year-old person today in a garage is putting an electric engine or internal combustion engine on a mountain bike in very much the way 20-year-old Harley did it at the turn of the 20th century. Harley brought his friend Walter Davidson into the firm, and they abandoned bicycle frames for bigger engines and stronger metal tubes. Their motorcycles always competed in the beginning in racing and in producing a style to win hearts and minds. Public opinion tended to favor winners, so the company produced motorcycles that not only won races but also smashed records. It turned out to be a good way to build a brand. Harley Davidson was born. What follows are some of the best and most exciting creations to come from Harley Davidson.

1 - 1930 Hillclimber DH

The Depression Era ushered in the Harley Davidson Motorcycle we recognize today. It took shape in the DH model, nicknamed the Hillclimber, an off-road motorcycle that could reach 100 mph. It became famous for its dirt-bike style hill climbing. It would probably attract buyers in today’s showrooms and look credible on the open roads too. This is the most exciting example of Harley motorcycles after its racing days during the 1910s and ‘20s. The Hillclimber DH with its over-the-head valve engine was something totally new to Harley. The bike looked more low-slung than its racing predecessors. The Hillclimber cruised the roads with authority, but its job as a stunt bike was to convince the public to buy the Harley Davidson 1200cc SV.

2 - 1942 WLA

The legendary Harley V-twin engine grew large during the Depression era in the 74cc to 80cc Knucklehead and lowered the middle of the bike and slung out the front and rear wheel to give it a prowling profile. The Company landed a number of big military contracts during World War II, and the 1940-42 WLA was Harley’s contribution. It was the bike that was served up in vast numbers in the drab green color the army wanted. Servicemen fell for it big time. It was meaner and hotter looking. It inspired many ex-GIs to chop it, so it became the first Easy Rider Harley of the post-war years.

3 - 1969 Electra Glide

Harley Davidson developed the 1969 Electra Glide as part of the Harley FL family after the knucklehead engines evolved into pan-heads and a telescopic oversized front suspension came into the picture. Of course, it was equipped with an electric starter thus the name Electra Glide. With the hard saddlebags, big seats, gas tank and a windjammer, the Electra Glide became a favorite of police departments and Americans with money and a desire for adventure. The price tag was hefty enough to drive off the youth, but everybody loved the monster bike. It was such a welcome contrast to screechy Japanese imports. People still wonder nostalgically what happened to those glorious Harley Davidson motorcycles?

4 - 2002 Softails

It took years for Harley to get the Softails to be as exciting to own as they looked. Introduced in the 1980s, it inspired hope in so many fans for Harley Davidson’s comeback, but it wasn’t until 2002 that this generational motorcycle became a tour-de-force. The big forks, the long wingspan handlebars, the enormous headlight defined Harley Davidson for the diehard nostalgic crowd. In 2002, it sported an awesome twin-cam engine and developed a reputation for reliability that made it a winner for years.

5 - 2006 VRSCA Night Rod

With impressive styling and a radical departure from the profile of its predecessors, the VRSCA V-Rod family jumps out at you with its styling excellence. Enjoying a 16-year run, the VRSCA line successfully out-shined the ubiquitous crotch bikes of the 2010s. Some considered the Night Rod the premier example of this line and called it a cultural wonder capable of making riders forget even other Harley models. With the wide rear tire and the black trim, the Night Rod with 115 hp and 84 pounds of torque had a quick take-off and plenty of power to spare down the stretch.